It is a delightment to be able to write a review for Nisekoi, though the anime was not perfect, it has provided me with significant entertainment during the last few months. Even if my review may seem negative, it is just because I am analyzing an anime by parts and category. As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Nisekoi.
The plot of Nisekoi is rather mediocre. With a redundant premise, Nisekoi has nothing new to contribute to the rom-com genre. The creativity of the story and its complexity is minimal at best, non-existent at least. Do no expect to be blown away by the story line, in fact, the plot will leave you wanting in most of the episodes. There are the standardized anime episodes such the festival, the school play, and the beach episodes. None of them adds anything unique to the template, it is just a repetition from what we have traditionally seen.
It is not as if the premise is weak, though not original, the premise of a MC looking for the girl of his past to open his locket has potentiality for a lot of complexity and twist. This, however, was not done in Nisekoi, and of course this is not directly the anime's fault but rather a representation of the manga. Even when the chance for legit development appeared, the event was squandered by a random, indescribable, improbable set of circumstances. An example would be a girl sitting next to her crush, with her gathering up all the courage to tell her crush that she wants to kiss him....and actually does say it!! Then it turns out that the guy fell asleep seconds before her confession, and wakes up seconds after the end of statement. One event like this may fly past the radar, but the agglomeration of these types of events prevents anyone from taking the plot and story line of this anime seriously.
Even a young child would face-palm at the irritable progression of the plot.
I did not feel like an episode was lacking in art. Sure, there were some frames that were reused, and the animation wasn't super fluid every scene, but overall the art was good. Since Shaft produced Nisekoi, there is a lot of similarity between this anime's art and previous anime of theirs. I didn't even know Shaft produced this before watching the anime, but a few seconds into the first episode, I could just tell.
It wouldn't be true that the art style is done better in Nisekoi than in other of Shaft's works, but it was a great fit for Nisekoi. I enjoyed the close ups, the quick glances, and the over dramatization of emotions. I'm really into experiencing the story, and this art style especially focuses on characters more than background. I think this can be weird to some at first, but it really brings the point home that its' the characters that one should be paying attention to the most. Nisekoi did a great job in making the character design shine. I can vividly recall scenes where I felt enamored by some of female design and how they fit. Nisekoi did a great job of letting us see them THROUGH the eyes of Raku.
Marvelous soundtrack. Soundtracks can make or break a scene, and in Nisekoi, every scene was amply elevated by its choice of bgm. I'm highly receptive to visual and auditory stimulants, so I found myself captivated by a lot of events ,that were poor plot wise, but were done so beautifully that it captured my attention away from the plot but into the art, and even emotions of the characters involved. I think that this is the telos of any soundtrack, to make scenes even more riveting that it would have been otherwise. Excellent soundtrack.
The strength of Nisekoi may not be its storyline or plot complexity, but instead lies within its characters. Nisekoi has the ability to make all of its characters likable, and this is a very RARE element to have. At the end of the anime, I didn't find myself hating any characters. I do have my preference of who I would like Raku to be with, but this is more of my own personal taste than any loathing that I feel for the rest of the female cast. Of course, this may be due to the lack of complexity of the story, and the author playing it safe with everyone, but there have been anime done with poor plot progression along with horrible and unlikable characters. Nisekoi should applauded for its characters.
The main character, Raku, at first glance seems to be our typical dense lead. He's an average looking person with no particular exceeding talent( maybe besides cooking, but this wasn't developed). He seems to be average in school, his attitude is average of someone of his type, and his character design is slightly different. He has the will to protect his friends, but to be utterly oblivious to obvious signs. He also seems to have the ability to fall asleep in matter of mini seconds, and to wake up just as fast. His redeeming point is that when Raku WANTS to, he can be astute in his observation. There are monologues of his where if given more time, and more info, he would have cracked this mystery surrounding him. Raku is not a stupid generic character, he does have a girl that he is mainly interested in. He acts according to this preference, but again due to poor plot, none of these actions are actualized into substantive events. This is more of a plot issue than a character issue.
Chitoge, the blonde bombshell, is the eccentric vivacious main girl. She's loud and obnoxious, and can be unreasonable at times. However, she also have her redeeming qualities. She grew up without having too many friends, and she longs for sisterly companionship. On the inside, she is a compassionate person, that probably has had to put on up a tough mask due to the teasing done to her back in America. It is surprising that she is a strong student considering the shortcomings of the educational system of the U.S, but that is besides the point. If given enough time, Chitoge does become lovely and likable in her own way.
Kosaki Onodera seems to correlate with the cute nice shy template. She's not as vivacious as Chitoge, and is too timid to assert herself in the middle of a big crowd. This is not to say that Onodera is complacent, she has willed herself to reveal her feelings numerous times, but again due to improbable and reaching circumstances, these confessions have fell to deaf ears. This is not a character flaw of Onodera, but again a shortcoming of the plot.
The remaining cast , in my opinion, just serves to spice up the dynamic between the three characters mentioned above. Tsugumi is a personal favorite of mine, but she doesn't bring any relevance to the plot except for minor details. Maiko is invisible and obscure, besides his sexual tangents, he just brings slight humor. Marika makes a late appearance, however, the appearance is so late that it makes it hard to emphasize with her. Ruri is funny and spices the plot in a good way, but her will cannot beat the incomprehensible twist of Nisekoi.
With Nisekoi, the parts doesn't equal the whole. There were a lot of details that left me wanting in the first season of Nisekoi, but overall, the anime was quite intriguing and enjoyable. The art and sound compliments each other so well, the characters have an excellent dynamic to leave you laughing and caring for them. There is fan service, but is tastefully done relative to other anime of the same genre.
I do recommend this anime to anyone looking for a strong romantic comedy.
Overall: (90%) With this anime, the categories does not hold the same weight. I am eagerly waiting for a second season.